Sleep Furiously: A film by Gideon Koppel
“Sleep Furiously” is taken from a quote by Noam Chomsky “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously” and the film, directed by Gideon Koppel, features the community of Trefeurig where he grew up with his parents, who settled in the village as German Jews, after the war.
The DVD sleeve contains an analysis by Mark Ford with his article from the Guardian and John Banville’s piece from Sight and Sound. In the densely written cover sleeve one of them quotes Thomas Hardy’s poem The Self-Unseen as an illustrative signpost to the core of the film (see road signs below!)
Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.
She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there
Bowing it higher and higher.
Childlike I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day
Everything glowed with a gleam,
Yet we were looking away!
It’s a very good film. You can see the thread of life and connective tissue of people’s existence and creations woven through it, and at the end there is an image that conjures a pair of moth’s wings fluttering in the light. Translucent and ephemeral facts of Life. Through the course of the film the images used become less and less substantial until what’s left is something flickering. The final image is in fact a window which is steady and letting in the light and simultaneously offering a view looking out. What flickers is the fine thready membranous curtains around it, then even that is gone. There’s a lot of that: there and gone, and the context of things is never the same. Something is one thing one minute and woven through life into other scenarios and contexts the next. The film also looks fondly at the things that mark regularity.
Throughout you see ‘things’ being functional and in use, and towards the end types of those things having been turned into artefacts, eg for sale as part of a lot in an auction. When they become rusted artefacts instead of being used for their functional purpose, then it’s endgame. Something is over.
There is also an amusing play on this in the little cameo about the road signs! This is lovely and illustrates a longing for something that was a modern metal replacement to become rusted and, in its turn, get replaced by the old-fashioned wooden type that preceded it! Won’t spoil the humour of that by going into detail.
The sleeve writers both pick out the Chomsky quote to illustrate the point of his (Chomsky’s) having alighted on something that while being grammatically or semantically correct, actually makes no sense at all in terms of meaning. I think Chomsky uses those words because in them he is speaking the language of the Soul, which unites apparent contradictions. Actually dissolves them, or if you want to reference Blake ‘Without [apparent] contraries, is no progression’.
The film unfolds something of the Soul, and the play of life which the Soul breathes through and motivates. Activity rolls along through perfectly constructed rituals which have no meaning in the eternal sense other than the Being from which they Become and then Return to, and that journey is illustrated as delightful, humorous and painful, all of a piece.
The gestalt of this film is really lovely and I can see entirely why it emerged and swam through the plethora of films of its kind to get our attention. There’s much about it, and with intelligent and integrated use of music sits very comfortably indeed with the explorations in Walking on Water at www.bernadettereed.co.uk